It has been reported at the weekend that President Biden will re-instate the travel restrictions that were put in place for a number of countries (UPDATE: the order has been published here). These include the Schengen area, UK and Ireland, Brazil, China and so on. Biden is also expected to add South Africa to the list. These bans all mean that a person cannot enter the USA if they were in one of the listed countries in the previous 14 days.
The Trump administration had announced it was removing these restrictions just two days before the end of the Trump term. The announcement said the restrictions would be removed on January 26. Almost immediately the Biden spokesperson (Jen Psaki) went to Twitter to explain they would NOT be removing these restrictions as shown here.
Regular readers will also remember that I discussed this in detail on my January 19th video where I explained the reasons that I agree these restrictions should not be removed. It is a matter of common sense that you don’t remove restrictions when the virus is still raging in some of the affected countries, and in the last couple of weeks new details are emerging about how dangerous the new strains on the virus actually are. The new strain seen in the UK for instance is now thought to be far more easily transmitted and at least 30% more deadly than the existing strains. In South Africa, the government there are working to combat a new strain, which again seems much more transmissable.
So – let me state again. Biden has a series of priorities. Number one on that list is fighting COVID. But perhaps those of you outside the USA don’t understand how badly the COVID crisis has been handled – so let me recap that for a start.
The vaccination rollout plan was badly botched by the Trump administration, so we are far behind where we should be and supplies are not in place where there should be. So – it will take time to vaccinate people.
Testing is also inadequate, after all these months it is still hard to get tested in most parts of the USA. Because of that inadequate testing, it is not possible to isolate areas where breakouts occur, and contact tracing is very badly handled.
Mask use was made into a political issue by Trump and co – so now we have a significant portion of the country that see mask wearing as an insult to their freedoms. Utterly ridiculous – but that is where we are.
Because of all of the above, lockdowns are still in place in many parts of the country, which hurts the economy. Each week we see hundreds of thousands of people apply for unemployment benefits.
It is going to take Biden some time to get to grips with all of that – it can’t all be corrected overnight. So with that as a background it is simply not logical to expect Biden to remove the 14 day restrictions. They need to implement tighter controls on inbound travel, and only when those measures are in place and effective will they remove such restrictions.
However, a travel restriction that causes a 14 day inconvenience is FAR less impactful than the PP10014 ban. That is the real damaging ban. So I remain hopeful that Biden will lift that ban on Friday the 29th, but that is by no means a certainty – and you must not get your hopes too high for that. It might not happen. It may be that we have to rely on the lawsuits to challenge the ban, and you will hopefully remember that we are waiting for decisions in the Gomez appeal and now the Annunciato case. So – that may be what we have to hope for if Biden decides he cannot remove 10014.
The lawyers are also raising the need to be able to extend or re-issue existing visas for DV2020, so again, that is something we are waiting for from the Annunciato case that was heard last week. We do not have a target day of when we will have those decision, but it was clear that Judge Seeborg was planning to wait to see what Biden does on the 29th. So – as I have said before, it could be early February before we are free of the PP10014. But no one is forgetting the important issues.
So let’s not go crazy – some people on Twitter yesterday were being ridiculously negative. Biden needs some time to deal with the priorities, and of course the Pandemic is evolving and could become even more serious.
So – please keep hoping, and keep being patient.